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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A family teaches discipline and comportment

Kong remembers what she learned from her grandmother and parents. Her grandmother taught her how to be a "good girl;" her mother, to awake early and help around the house; her father, to work hard. Their instruction did not extend to how to survive in a strange new world, but they enforced such a strict behavioral code that Kong did not encounter trouble.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ran Kong, November 25, 2000. Interview K-0269. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BARBARA LAU:
And were there things that your parents or your grandmother said to you when you were little that were important for you to learn because you were Cambodian, or lessons you think they wanted to teach you when you were little?
RAN KONG:
I guess like just the usual. Like for my grandmother and from my mom, like the lessons that they taught me were different from my father. From my grandmother, it was always more how to be a good girl. When you come to the temple with me or when you go to somebody's house with me, it's always important to be respectful, you know, to the older people, to the people who own the house, respectful to the monks. So just always from like my grandmother's side, respect, respect, respect. How to behave properly. She's like, it's not good to be a noisy, playful, kid who runs all over everywhere, which I still did anyways. And from my mom, it was sort of the same type of lessons. You should get up early, and you should help me do this, do that. But from my dad it was on a more serious note, like always be good in school. Why aren't you doing good in school? Why aren't you studying harder? I remember making a bad grade in third grade, and he was just furious, absolutely furious. And you know, I sort of cried and my grandmother held me. But so I remembered, you know, from early on an important lesson from my father was that you take education very seriously. It's always, do as good as you can in school. Like it's not something that you take lightly at all.
BARBARA LAU:
Did they tell you anything about how to relate to other people who weren't like you?
RAN KONG:
Not particularly. Always just that, you know, be good in school. You know, make the teachers like you because, they're the ones in authority, so if anything happens they can side with you. And don't mess around at school. Don't get into fights. Don't get into arguments. I never really so I guess like that from that point of view, I never really had any problems at school. That whole fifth grade incident, my parents never knew about it. I just I just never told them. And so basically, my father was so strict about school, I knew that if I ever got, into an argument or into a fight with one of the other kids, I would be the one that would get into trouble, no matter if it wasn't my fault or not. And so I just avoided it. So they never really had to tell me like how to interact with other kids besides, don't start anything with them.